Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Rodrick's Ford Garage Sumner 1940s

Sumner Garage 1940s

 From the Sumner Press 1995

"Rodrick's Ford Garage pictured above in the early 1940s was located on W South Avenue, Sumner.  It was operated by Everett and Harold Rodrick. The building, having been remodeled is now the Christy Fire Protection District Headquarters. Note the air pump located left and the 1935 or 1936 Ford far right."  

Monday, September 20, 2021

Adoptions in Lawrence County

 Vincennes Sun Commercial Oct 5 1927

Mrs. S. S. Seller, Mt Carmel home visitor, Children's Visitation, Department of Public Welfare of Springfield, was in Lawrence County the first of the week calling on Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Phelps and Charles Dollahan of Bond township.  

Both families have orphan children in  their homes adopted from county orphanages.  Mr and Mrs Phelps have Catherine Mullen, an orphan from the County Orphanage at Vincennes and Mr and Mrs Dollahan have an orphan from the DuQuoin orphanage.  Mrs. Seller expressed that she was well pleased with the treatment being received by the charges especially with their home life and schooling. 

Ed Note:   Further research shows: 

The 1930 Census for Bond Twp, Lawrence County IL shows that John D. Phelps (62) and Rosa, (64) his wife had Catherine Millen living with them. She was 15 years old, and was listed as a servant.  

In January 1948 John D. Phelps died. His obituary states that he himself was left an orphan at an early age. Though he and his wife, Rose Childress Phelps, had no children of their own, they gave a home to a number of homeless children who regarded them as more than parents. 

Charles Dollahan (60) and wife Sarah (58) had a boy living with them, John R. Lance (19)  listed as a roomer.

Charles Dollahan’s obituary (Daily Record March 18, 1936) states that one child had been born of his marriage with Sarah A. Waters but that son had died an accidental death in 1911 at age 18.  However the Pinkstaff News column in the Daily Record March 12, 1936 stated that John Lentz of Kansas was called back to Lawrence County by the death of C. W. Dollahan, in whose home he formerly lived.  

Friday, September 17, 2021

A Small Town Homecoming Parade by C. Williams

 On November 3, 2005 the Bridgeport Leader published the following article by Charles Williams.

“I attended my high school class reunion on September 29 and 30th, 2005. It took two days to celebrate, and even the weather cooperated. It had been 60 years since I graduated from BTHS. The time has flown by fast. Each year seems to pass faster than the previous one. The reunion committee, consisting of Genelle Howe Leffler,Zerilda Honeycutt Kepner, Mary Lue Sumner York, Winifred Rice Grove, and Ferne Waggoner Cunningham, timed the event to coincide with the BTHS -now the RHHS- homecoming week. By extending our reunion over two days we were able to ride on a homecoming parade float on Thursday and have our reunion dinner on Friday. 

"We were to gather for the float ride at Ferne’s house on Fairmont Street before the parade. But where in heaven's name was Fairmont? At first, I had only my 1930 city directory to help me find it. It described in words where the streets started and ended, but it included no map. John Robinson then sent me a map. With the map and detailed instructions provided by Mary Lue on how to find Bridgeport and navigate my way through it, I located Fairmont and Ferne's house.

"As it turned out, for over seven years, I had lived just around the corner from where Ferne now lives. I could have stood in my backyard, and with a strong wind at my back, I could have spit all the way to Fairmont. The street was in my immediate neighborhood all the time. In fact, when our house was being moved from Church Street to Gray Street with us living in it, we spent one night sleeping under the streetlight in the middle of Church and Fairmont. The Greyhound bus had to find a detour to get out of town that evening. But how many kids pay attention to street names? John told me that he remembered Olive and Main Street only because he and his wife, Mona, had both lived on Olive, and he could find Main if he had to. 

"Our class of 1945 assembled at Ferne's house before the parade. There were about 19 of us including spouses that climbed aboard the float. We jockeyed for position amid other parade entries on Gray and Church streets and the streets in between all the way from the high school to Seed school. At one point we could hear loud cheers from what I perceived to be school cheerleaders, and I wondered to myself, “Were we ever like that?”

"Charles Cunningham had done a great job in preparing our float. He had built benches that ran along each side of a low bed trailer. The trailer had sides that kept us from falling out, and banners proclaiming us to be the “BTHS class of 1945” were attached to the sides. My wife, Carol, and I didn't know what to expect for a float. We were prepared to sit on bales of hay on the back of a truck. We floated in luxury and waived blue-and-white pom-poms. I was surprised at the large number of onlookers along the parade route that extended from the south end of the football field to downtown. The crowd only thinned in spots. I am sure that everyone was there specifically to see us. 

"John and Alberta Gray were among the onlookers. John was in my class, but they were unable to attend the reunion events. John and Mona Robinson along with Carol and I made a special visit to see John and Alberta the next day. John Hamilton was another onlooker whom I would've liked to have seen. Someone on the float yelled that he was in the crowd, but I couldn't have spotted him anyway due to my poor vision. Art Dale, called out to me and I yelled back. We talked with him later after the parade.

"The parade was over. We jumped off the float in front of the Senior Center.  Well, maybe jumped is not the right word for 78-year-olds and older. We gingerly alighted from the float. Soup, chili dogs, and desserts awaited us inside. It was the first time I had been inside this building since it was the US Post Office. Where were the letterboxes? Where was the window where I could buy stamps? Everything had changed. Even the front door was in the wrong place.

"Carol and I talked with Art Dale and David Paddock whom we hadn't seen in many years. With our meal was over we jumped – sorry, I mean we crawled – back onto the trailer and returned to the Cunningham house from where we had started.” 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

New Medical Center 1980

 July 21, 1980 

 A bulldozer began moving dirt on the site of the New Lawrence County Medical Center on West Lexington Ave. in Lawrenceville.  The new facilities were to house offices for six doctors. 

Ed Note: The hospital is shown in the right background. 

The LTHS 1917 yearbook lists the alumni that were in the service, including Dr. Tom Kirkwood, Ambulance Corp;  John McGaughey, Field Hospital; and  Fred Gee, Ambulance Corps. There is quite a bit of history in these old yearbooks, as well as great vintage photos.  You will be helping the Historical Society with their fundraiser by purchasing a yearbook.  Click here to see what schools and what dates are still available.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Protest of South Pacific

Robert Climer received his Bachelor's Degree and Master's degree at Eastern Illinois University.  He also attended the University of Iowa, University of Indiana, Vanderbilt College of Music, and Indiana State University.  After completing his schooling, Climer returned to his hometown of Palestine to teach before being drafted into the army.  He spent two years playing a bassoon in the Army band. Upon completing his time in the service, Climer taught in the Junior High School at Robinson. He then taught band, chorus, and music appreciation at Bridgeport. His musical groups continually brought home superior rating from music contests.  

In 1969, Robert Climer was the music director of BTHS.  He was hired in 1957 by the district and built the band from seven players then to about 70 members including majorettes, pompom/flag bearers, and drum major within 8 years.  The group performed at football games, marching festivals and even took 2nd place out of 30 marching bands at the U of I Homecoming parade. Many individual musicians competed and won in district and state competitions.  The choir performances were no less exceptional with invitations to perform at many local events.  

 In 1963 the music department performed their first musical, Swinging High, and during the following years, Mr. Crane of Sleepy Hollow, Li’l Abner; Once upon a Mattress, Oklahoma and the Sound of Music were performed.  The music department, as well as Climer’s, own respect and popularity in the community soared. Tickets were sold out and the school even received a telegram or two congratulating him on these performances.   

The 1969 music year started poorly, however.  A VU student writing for the college newspaper reviewed the high school bands by comparing them to the IU’s Marching 100 at the fall Vincennes University Marching Festival. His review was so scathing that University President Beckes was forced to write a personal apology to Climer and presumably to the Lawrenceville High School band director as well as the other high schools marching bands that had performed.

That year Climer chose to have the students perform South Pacific for the spring musical. As auditions began and word of the chosen play spread, the Bridgeport churches began to express their concerns as to the dialogue.  The ministers of the Bridgeport Assembly of God, the Bible Mission, Wesleyan Church, the Free Methodist Church, the Christian Church, the United Methodist Church and the Zion Methodist Church, all voiced their objections.  A delegation actually protested at the high school. 

Some of the dialogue was “cleaned up” for the presentation but words like “Damn” and “Hell” still remained. A review of the BTHS school board minutes failed to find even one comment on the record about the controversy.

There’s nothing like adult censorship to get teenagers interested. Of the 400 students attending BTHS that year, 150 volunteered to take part in the performance, construct flats, paint scenery or hunt up uniforms from long forgotten soldiers who fought during World War II.

The controversy was good for ticket sales, too. The musical ran for three nights.  Admission was a dollar, and it may have been the first time, a profit was ever made on a high school musical event.

 After the performances, Climer received several positive letters of support and congratulations.  These were saved in a scrapbook that Climer made and kept of his years at BTHS.  One letter though was quite interesting.

“Friday night I went to see South Pacific. The music was well given. Each number was well rendered. The little heroines gave an excellent performance. I wish I could say I really enjoyed it, but the dialogue, the swearing, the vulgarity of the coconuts, the drinking scene, and the card game and several others made me forget the music. I wondered just what kind of things these boys and girls are going to remember from this program.   We have missed you at church and I wonder if this type of teaching is that of a Christian gentleman. Do not do it again.  A teacher must teach the best things in life and instill their students, not promote the unrefined.”

 (Did the writer forget that the play was about men and women willing to give up their lives so that she could live in a democracy and enjoy the freedom of religion and speech?)  

 While our fundraiser does not include the BTHS 1961 yearbook, we do have a 1971 yearbook for sale.  Check out the list of 1971 graduates below.  If one of them has a birthday coming up, what a perfect present.. ..and only $20 plus shipping! (click on photo to enlarge, then click here to purchase.)


Monday, September 13, 2021

Willard Jason Wiswall 1880-1939

Willard Jason Wiswall 1880-1939

The early records of the Bridgeport Public School dates back to 1896 when there were only two graduates from advanced studies, Willard Jason Wiswall and Victor Buchanan. After graduation, Mr. Wiswall taught two years at Rising Sun School.  He attended North Western University Dental School and graduated in 1904. He opened a dental office in Bridgeport in 1904-1914.  Later he opened a furniture store and funeral parlor there as well. Wiswall later became a surgeon.  His son Edwin graduated from Bridgeport High school in 1928, and had seven children to graduate from his alma mater as well. There were Joe, Charles, Carol Ann, Fay Louise, Paula and Bob. 

Bellewood School- Teacher W Wiswall
We also found a photo of Wisall teaching at Bellewood school in Allison Township. 

Circa 1922 Island School- Ed Wiswall identified. 

Even though there was no 1896 yearbook produced,  we still have many others for sale as part of our fundraiser.  Click here see the dates available. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Green Beans

July 3 1972 Daily Record

Last week was green bean picking time in Allison Township, and the Green Giant picking machines, 21 of them descended in full force on the Percy Lockhart farm last Tuesday.  Ny Wednesday afternoon they had stripped over 230 acres of green beans, then gone on to other Allison farms- Farris Laakman's and Glenn H. Mahrenholz's. 

The revolving wire brushes, located under the engine of the tractor, strip the green beans and feed them by conveyor belt into a hopper at the rear. 

There were 21 pickers lined up early Tuesday afternoon before starting on the chore of stripping the 160 acre field of beans.

Green beans nearly filled the hopper as the tractors made one trip across the 160 acre field.  Ingolf H. Jorgenson of Copenhagen, Denmark (a former resident of Lawrenceville) is taking a picture of the picker.

 WE still have YEARBOOKS  for sale through our fundraiser!!! They will make a great Christmas present for your favorite genealogist.  Click here see dates and schools.